Azure Maps is one of the latest Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offer by Microsoft Azure. This services was under public preview since November 2017 under the name of Azure Location Based Services, and it officially General Available (GA) on May 8, 2018.
Regardless it called Azure Maps or Azure Location Based Services, the immediate response from developers were, what is the differences between Azure Maps compare to Bing Maps services? Since both of them are the products from Microsoft, it worth we spend some time to compare it.
In general, the main differences between two of them are:
Map Data Source
Azure Maps services are powered by TomTom map data, which TomTom is one of the world leading map data providers. In another hand, Bing Maps is powered by HERE maps and OpenStreetMap. HERE is also one of the world leading map data providers and OpenStreetMap is the largest open source mapping community.
Azure Maps services are just like another Azure products. This mean you can just create and manage the service just like other Azure services. Azure Maps come with 250K/months calls for Maps and Traffic Tiles, 5000/month for IP-to-Location service, Aerial Imagery service, Time Zone services. The rest of the services combined total transaction will be 25K/month for free. Once the free quotas are finished, Azure Maps service price at $0.50/1000 transaction for all its services except $0.25/1000 transaction for IP-to-Location service. Details info can be found here.
On another hand, Bing Maps pricing is complicated, and developers may need separate contracts with Microsoft. The details pricing can be found here.
Beside the data sources and subscription models are different, Azure Maps and Bing Maps do have lot of similarity and others differences. Such as, Azure Maps does has more comprehensive routing options.
Unfortunately, Azure Maps yet to provide MapControls that support Universal Windows Platform (UWP) where Bing Maps control are included in the UWP SDK. Offline map capability also missing from Azure Maps as of now.
Route Service API provided by Azure Maps enable developers to obtain routes that based on various conditions inputs, such as: Traffic conditions, weight restrictions, or hazardous material transport. Bing Maps provide routes based on relatively simple input.
Both of the services does provide comprehensive data, but the data accuracy are very much depends on regions.
Like mentioned above, both of the services do provide traffic and incidents information that very much different from region to region.
Time Zone Service
This service is very much worth to mention. Azure Maps Time Zone Service API offers current, historical, and future time zone information using either latitude + longitude or an IANA ID. This service also able to convert Microsoft Windows time zone IDs to IANA time zones, provide a time zone offset to UTC and getting current time in a respective time zone.
These features specifically useful for time zone sensitive applications.
Another interesting features that come with Azure Maps services is IP-to-Location service API. This features allow developers to retrieve the two letter code for a given IP address, which this feature is not available in Bing Maps.
Whos should use this Azure Maps?
If you are already on Azure platform, Azure Maps is definitely something that you want to try it.
You can find out more information about Azure Map here.